Royal Caribbean suspends all shore excursions to active volcanoes following White Island tragedy

In the wake of the White Island tragedy, where 15 tourists, up to eight of them from Ovation of the Seas, were killed by an eruption, Royal Caribbean has suspended all such shore excursions.

“After the tragic incident this week in New Zealand, we are suspending tours of active volcanoes,” company spokesperson Melissa Charbonneau was quoted as saying by Cruise Critic.

The news came after Royal Caribbean sent out notices to passengers who had booked future trips, informing them that their excursions would no longer be offered.

Italy’s Mount Etna is a popular attraction on Royal Caribbean’s Mediterranean cruises

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Royal Caribbean has said all passenger affected will get a full refund.

Charbonneau said she did not yet have a list of the excursions affected but expected there would be several dozen.

“Our main focus now is on helping our guests impacted,” she said.

Affected shore excursions will include some of the cruise line’s most popular, such as Mount Etna in Sicily, Italy, Hekla Volcano in Reykjavík, Iceland and of course Kilauea and Maunaloa on Hawaii Island, two of the most active in the world.

The move comes after several passengers from Ovation of the Seas were killed during a shore excursion to Whakaari (White Island) in New Zealand, when the volcano on the island erupted unexpectedly.

White Island’s volcano erupted unexpectedly while 50 tourists were hiking in and around the crater

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White there had been reports of increased activity, New Zealand authorities had said visits to the island remained safe in the days preceding the incident.

In the weeks leading up to the eruption, GeoNet, which tracks hazard information in New Zealand, warned new volcanic activity on White Island meant that an imminent eruption was possible, but said the week before the eruption the geological activity did not pose a direct hazard to visitors.

Some 50 visitors were hiking on the island at the time of eruption, a dozen or more were within the crater itself.

The incident has raised wider questions about the popularity of adventure tourism and visits to active volcanoes generally. Millions of people visit the more than 1,500 active volcanoes around the world every year, but this is the first incident in which a large number of tourists are known to have died from an unexpected eruption.

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